PREVENTION - DETECTION - TREATMENT
The goal is to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration. The primary goal of World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer and is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer. The day is observed by the United Nations.
What is Prevention?
Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. The physical problems and emotional distress caused by cancer, the high costs of care are also a burden to patients, their families, and to the public. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of cancer is lowered. Hopefully, this will reduce the burden of cancer and lower the number of deaths caused by cancer.
Cancer is not a single disease but a group of related diseases. Many things in our genes, our lifestyle, and the environment around us may increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer.
Scientists are studying many different ways to help prevent cancer, including the following:
- Ways to avoid or control things known to cause cancer.
- Changes in diet and lifestyle.
- Finding precancerous conditions early. Precancerous conditions are conditions that may become cancer.
- Chemoprevention (medicines to treat a precancerous condition or to keep cancer from starting).
- Risk-reducing surgery.
How Detection Works:
If you have a symptom or a screening test result that suggests cancer, your doctor must find out whether it is due to cancer or some other cause. The doctor may start by asking about your personal and family medical history and do a physical exam. The doctor also may order lab tests, imaging tests (scans), or other tests or procedures. You may also need a biopsy, which is often the only way to tell for sure if you have cancer.
Treatment and Support:
Even if you don't want to know a lot of details about your treatment, it's a good idea to learn about the side effects. Then you can take steps to prepare and ask for help if you need it. The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the medicines used for your treatment. And side effects vary from person to person. Your doctor can help you know what to expect and can prescribe medicines to help with side effects.
Fatigue is a common side effect, and it can really disrupt your life. Some people notice that they feel a little more tired than usual. Other people feel like they have no energy at all. Some days may be better than others.
It's okay to rest when you feel tired. On days when you feel better, try a bit of activity. A short walk may boost your energy.
Here are some ways to care for yourself when you're feeling weak and tired:
- Get extra rest. Plan ahead so you can take breaks or naps.
- Save your energy for the most important things you want to do.
- When you feel good enough to eat, try to eat a balanced diet. Try not to skip meals, especially breakfast.
- Try to calm yourself when worries fill your head. Deep breathing, gratitude, music, and prayer are all ways to lower your stress level.
- Accept help from family and friends for home chores and other tasks.
Help and support
Cancer treatment can take a huge toll on your energy, sense of well-being, and emotions. This is the time to take care of yourself and turn to others for support. It's not always easy to ask for help, especially if you're used to taking care of others and doing everything for yourself. But remember that the people around you probably are eager to support you. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness.
Think about the types of help you want. You may need:
- Someone who can listen to your worries and fears or simply keep you company.
- Help with errands or picking up kids.
- Meals and groceries delivered to your home.
- Rides to and from appointments.
You may find that you have too much help or not enough. If you feel overwhelmed by offers of support, ask a family member or close friend to organize the people helping you so you can focus on taking care of yourself. If you need more help, your doctor can connect you with local programs that can assist you with support, meal deliveries, transportation to your appointments, and other needs.
Looking toward the future
Cancer treatment is a difficult and stressful time in your life. But many people find a sense of hope that helps them through it. Treatments today are better than ever, and more people with cancer survive and live longer. Set goals for your life after treatment, and focus on the things that matter to you most.
Where to learn more
The following booklets from the National Cancer Institute's website may be helpful:
- Chemotherapy and You: Support for People With Cancer (www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/chemotherapy-and-you)
- Radiation Therapy and You (www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/radiation-therapy-and-you)
- Pain Control: Support for People With Cancer (www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/paincontrol)
Cancer Prevention Overview (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI] (stlukesonline.org)
How Cancer Is Diagnosed - National Cancer Institute
Cancer Support: Coping With Cancer Treatments - Topic Overview (stlukesonline.org)